Oregon Hospitality Foundation Awards Funds to Support Restaurants’ Charitable Work
“Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity, not a threat” - Steve Jobs
Restaurants are selling groceries, hotels and airlines are relaxing cancellation policies, breweries and distillers are making home deliveries, and most everybody has become proficient with unmuting/muting themselves for Zoom meetings.
As our partners have sought to quickly adjust to shifting conditions with innovative solutions, so has your foundation. With the March 16 ban on indoor dining and large party gatherings, the ensuing stay at home order, and the sudden and staggering layoffs that followed, we realized that our role as Oregon hospitality industry’s nonprofit could also evolve.
Expanded Purpose and Creating Opportunities
We felt that seeking grants and collaborating with philanthropic donors could potentially enable us to offer financial relief and direct technical support to our partners. Before we could proceed with these strategies, we had to legally expand our purpose to include charitable support. On March 31st, the foundation’s Board of Directors met to approve an additional philanthropic focus to our mission and expanded our Articles of Incorporation filed with Oregon’s Secretary of State.
A New Name
In the same meeting, the board approved a new name for ORLA’s Education Foundation which would better reflect the diversity of partnerships that our workforce, educational, and now philanthropic projects include. Meet the Oregon Hospitality Foundation (OHF)! The resolution was approved the following week by ORLA’s Board of Directors. OregonHospitalityFoundation.org
Big Hearts and New Partnerships
Even with restaurants having to lay off staff and either close operations entirely or quickly pivot to the takeout/delivery model, I was inspired, though not surprised, by the focus they also had to help support their community’s food needs.
Without work, and with unemployment benefits slow to arrive, there was suddenly an overwhelming number of people experiencing food insecurity. I noticed how many restaurants were rising to meet those needs by offering meals–many of which were funded from their own dwindling cash reserves.
Simultaneously, I became aware of a virtual benefit for theaters. It was hosted and streamed online by filmmakers from PHOENIX OREGON and I participated. I fell in love with the film’s premise, its encouraging message, and the portrayal of one of the movie’s central characters, a chef, who epitomized the entrepreneurial and passionate nature of many restaurateurs. (If you have not seen it yet, I highly recommend: PhoenixOregonMovie.com).
I reached out to Annie Lundgren, the producer, to see if she was interested in collaborating on something similar for the food industry. Just a few quick weeks later, we were launching the foundation’s first fundraiser, Takeout & A Movie. This joint effort, which ran from May 7-17, was a benefit for restaurants who were serving meals to our front-line heroes and to those experiencing food insecurity. It was conceived with triple benefits in mind—drive takeout throughout the state, donate cash to eligible restaurants and provide work for their employees, and provide meals.
Response was strong; see a story run by KOIN 6 TV at bit.ly/KOIN6TakeoutStory. Over 650 tickets were sold. Comments from ticket purchasers were heart-warming and included:
The event has not only resulted in new relationships that will help us create additional fundraisers but has been an amazingly rich and grounding experience for me personally. I have had the privilege of working with so many kind and generous people who are passionate about their work, while helping others, and who prove that #StrongerTogether is much more than a hashtag.
The foundation felt it important to use 100 percent of proceeds the OHF received from the Takeout promotion to benefit eligible restaurants because we wanted to make a significant impact with our first fundraising effort. Thanks to ticket sales, contributions from individuals and the Oregon Hospitality Foundation, and a generous donation from Grubhub, we were able to provide funds for an estimated 11,500 meals to restaurants who are committed to supporting our frontline heroes and those experiencing food insecurity.
First Award Recipients
We’re happy to announce the first ten recipients of our fundraising effort. More awards, made to restaurants throughout the state, will soon follow along with an announcement of our next movie fundraiser. Thank you for your support!
See the press release for full details at Oregonrla.org/hospitalityhelp. Also, at press time, there were still funds available to award. If you, or anyone you know, fit the criteria please apply at Oregonrla.org/takeoutapp.
As you probably have realized from your own experiences the past couple months, innovation is not something that can be accomplished alone. None of what OHF has accomplished thus far would be have been possible without the enthusiastic support of ORLA’s crew and the people and organizations below that expand and make our team even stronger.
Unfortunately, looking toward the upcoming fiscal year, the foundation anticipates a 75 percent drop in revenue due to contract funding changes. Your in-kind and financial contributions are greatly appreciated so that we may sustain and continue our good work. | Wendy Popkin, Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, Oregon Hospitality Foundation
“Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you’ll be able to see further” - Thomas Carlyle
Wendy Popkin is the Executive Director of the Oregon Hospitality Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the restaurant and lodging industry’s education and training needs as well as providing charitable work, economic relief, and technical assistance to the industry. Wendy is a 30+-year career veteran who describes herself as “fanatically enthusiastic about helping others enjoy the same type of fabulous career opportunities I have enjoyed in the hospitality industry.” Oregonrla.org/Foundation